USQ Logo
The current and official versions of the course specifications are available on the web at
Please consult the web for updates that may occur during the year.

REN2200 Ecology for Sustainability

Semester 1, 2021 Online
Short Description: Ecology for Sustainability
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences
School or Department : School of Sciences
Student contribution band : Band 2
ASCED code : 050999 - Environmental Studies not else
Grading basis : Graded


Examiner: Andy Le Brocque

Other requisites

Students who have enrolled in or completed REN8202 Conservation for Sustainable Futures cannot enrol in this course.


Knowledge of ecological systems and processes and their contribution to current understanding of the effects of human activities on biodiversity and the environment has become essential for the future sustainable management of the earth's natural resources and the conservation of biodiversity. This course aims to provide knowledge of the fundamentals of ecological theory and practice and its contribution to sustainability, and an overview of human impacts on ecological systems and processes. This course is of particular relevance to students wishing to pursue careers in biology, environmental science, natural resource management, environmental education, environmental engineering and spatial science.


Ecology and conservation are closely related scientific disciplines that explore the very nature of life in terms of the distribution and abundance of organisms and interactions between organisms and their environment (ecology), and the diversity, scarcity and conservation of species, communities and ecosystems (conservation). This course provides a foundation in general ecological concepts and principles relevant to the sustainable management of the environment and knowledge of how ecological systems and processes have been impacted upon by human activities. The concept of biodiversity, mechanisms behind speciation and patterns in biodiversity, key threatening processes, and current issues in the conservation of biodiversity are examined. The course also examines concepts of pattern and processes in human-modified landscapes (including land transformation, habitat fragmentation, patch dynamics, conservation corridors and connectivity), implications for conservation and ecological sustainability.


On completion of this course, students should be able to:

  1. describe the nature of ecology and the scientific method within which it operates;
  2. explain the basic principles and concepts of ecology and apply these to the study of the distribution and abundance of organisms;
  3. evaluate the nature and dynamics of ecological populations, communities and ecosystems and the impacts of human activities on ecological systems and processes;
  4. assess the concept of ecosystem health in the context of human influences on the environment;
  5. analyse ecological information and data to provide informed decision-making in relation to resource management.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Ecology and the Environment 15.00
2. Species, Populations and Biotic Interactions 20.00
3. Communities and Ecosystems 20.00
4. Biodiversity & Conservation 22.00
5. Landscapes, Connectivity and Fragmentation 23.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

Krebs, CJ 2015, Ecology: the experimental analysis of distribution and abundance, 6th International edn, Benjamin Cummings, San Francisco.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
Groom, MJ, Meffe GK & Carroll, CR 2005, Principles of conservation biology, 3rd edn, Sinauer & Associates Inc, Sunderland, MA.
Krebs, CJ 2008, Ecological world view, CSIRO Publishing, Canberra.
MacKenzie, A Ball, A, & Virdee, S 2001, BIOS Instant Notes in Ecology, 2nd edn, Taylor & Francis.
Miller, GT & Spoolman, SE 2019, Living in the Environment, 20th edn, Cengage Learning Inc, Boston, MA, CA.
Molles, M, & Sher, A 2019, Ecology: Concepts and Applications, 8th edn, McGraw-Hill.
Sher, AA & Primack, RB 2019, An Introduction to Conservation Biology, 2nd edn, Sinauer Associates: Oxford University Press, New York.

Student workload expectations

Activity Hours
Assignments 40.00
Examinations 2.00
Online Lectures 26.00
Online Tutorials 26.00
Private Study 70.00
Quizzes 3.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Objectives Assessed Notes
Online Quiz 1 50 5 26 Mar 2021 1,2 (see note 1)
Assignment 1 Scientific Report 100 15 29 Mar 2021 1,2,5 (see note 2)
Assignment 2 Essay 100 25 03 May 2021 1,2,3,4,5
Online Quiz 2 50 5 07 May 2021 2,3,4
Online Quiz 3 50 5 04 Jun 2021 2,3,4
Open Examination - Online 120 45 End S1 1,2,3,4,5 (see note 3)

  1. Online Quizzes will be undertaken via the course StudyDesk and each must be completed in a single session within the specified period
  2. Assignments must be submitted via the online submission system on the course StudyDesk
  3. This will be an online exam. Students will be provided further instruction regarding the exam by their course examiner via StudyDesk. The examination date will be available via UConnect when the Alternate Assessment Schedule has been released.

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    There are no on-campus attendance requirements for this course. However, students are encouraged to participate in online tutorials during the semester. It is also the students' responsibility to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    50% of the marks or a grade of at least C. (Depending upon the requirements in Statement 4 below, students may not have to satisfactorily complete each assessment item to receive a passing grade in this course.)

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    Due to COVID-19 the requirements for S1 2021 are:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course.

    Requirements after S1 2021:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must obtain at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course (i.e. the Primary Hurdle), and have satisfied the Secondary Hurdle (Supervised), i.e. the end of semester examination by achieving at least 40% of the weighted marks available for that assessment item.

    Supplementary assessment may be offered where a student has undertaken all of the required summative assessment items and has passed the Primary Hurdle but failed to satisfy the Secondary Hurdle (Supervised), or has satisfied the Secondary Hurdle (Supervised) but failed to achieve a passing Final Grade by 5% or less of the total weighted Marks.

    To be awarded a passing grade for a supplementary assessment item (if applicable), a student must achieve at least 50% of the available marks for the supplementary assessment item as per the Assessment Procedure (point 4.4.2).

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the weighted aggregate of the marks (grades) obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    Due to COVID-19 the requirements for S1 2021 are:
    An Open Examination is one in which candidates may have access to any printed or written material and a calculator during the examination.

    Requirements after S1 2021:
    This is a restricted examination. Candidates are allowed access only to specific materials during a Restricted Examination. The only materials that candidates may use in the restricted examination for this course are: writing materials (non-electronic and free from material which could give the student an unfair advantage in the examination). Students whose first language is not English, may, take an appropriate unmarked non-electronic translation dictionary (but not technical dictionary) into the examination. Dictionaries with any handwritten notes will not be permitted. Translation dictionaries will be subject to perusal and may be removed from the candidate's possession until appropriate disciplinary action is completed if found to contain material that could give the candidate an unfair advantage.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Normally Deferred and Supplementary Examinations are held in the next Examination period. In S1 2021 selected courses will pilot an early Deferred and Supplementary Examination period held within 30 business days of results release. The list of courses involved can be found at

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. The due date for an assignment is the date by which a student must despatch the assignment to USQ electronically on the course website. The onus is on the student to provide proof of the despatch date, if requested by the Examiner. Students must retain a copy of each item submitted for assessment. This must be produced within five days if required by the Examiner. In the event that a due date for an assignment falls on a local public holiday in their area, such as a Show holiday, the due date for the assignment will be the next day.

  2. Students who, for medical, family/personal, or employment-related reasons, are unable to complete an assignment or to sit for an examination at the scheduled time may apply to defer an assessment in a course. Such a request must be accompanied by appropriate supporting documentation.

  3. Students must use the assignment format indicated on the course studydesk for written assignments.

  4. In accordance with Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences and USQ regulations, applications for extensions to assignment due dates must be made in writing to the Examiner before the assignment due date. Applications for extensions must be accompanied by appropriate documentary evidence.

Date printed 18 June 2021